Who is responsible for the greenhouse effect?
Imagine a courtroom with the General Motors chief executive officer on trial. How does the jury find the defendant, G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., on the charge of forcing the American public to produce more greenhouse gases than is morally acceptable?
In the next courtroom a hippie is on trial. How does the jury find this "poser" who claims to care about the environment while smoking incessantly and driving the Volkswagen van that burns oil across the country?
Uncle Sam is next. How does the jury find the People of the United States of America on the charge of producing more carbon emissions than any other nation on Earth?
For those of us who are in agreement that the greenhouse effect is a reality that is threatening the future of our planet, there is an undeniable nuance of culpability. When trying to stop the source of greenhouse gases, the Kyoto Protocol addressed the leaders of countries, the Energy Information Administration addresses the general public, and the Pew Center addresses business leaders, policy makers, scientists, and other experts. So who is responsible, the President of the United States, the experts, or Joe Shmoe?
Let's round up all of the lumberjacks who cut down the redwoods in the Northwest, all the coffee growers who slash and burn our rain forests, and all of the world's dairy farmers and all those who hold culpability. Put them on trial! These guys are destroying humanity's future, right?
The truth is that if you have the capability of accessing and reading this web page, you have enjoyed the technology that has caused most of Mount Kilimanjaro's ice to melt away and Adelie penguin population to diminish by one third. The guilt is overwhelming!
Consider also that while most everyone who has contributed to the greenhouse effect has the "original sin" of just being born into a society that uses fossil fuels for transportation and buys factory-made goods. Consider that the government leaders obtain their office the consensus of the people. The manufacturers pollute because their products continue to sell. And who holds the power in the long-term? The general public- individuals like you and me do.
Who is responsible for the greenhouse effect? Us! It's not all our fault that man-made emissions have become a thundercloud on Earth's future. We did not invent the combustible engine or plastic or the manufacturing production line. We do, however, have the responsibility for the future of the Earth's atmosphere starting right now. Finger-pointing and guilt trips aren't on the agenda when we have work to do. Each of us has to do our part to change the society in which we live and change the we are treating our planet.